‘I crashed my KS125 and hid in a bush. I looked like a fool’ Herve Poncheral, Mo­togp team boss p19

Motorcycle News (UK) - - THIS WEEK IN MCN - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

Q1. What are you rid­ing?

Since it was first pro­duced in 2001, I’ve had a dif­fer­ent T-max ev­ery year. I feel so good with it – it’s the only love story in my life that’s never stopped and one that I think never will.

Q2. Which liv­ing mo­tor­cy­clist do you most ad­mire?

In Mo­togp Marc Mar­quez has im­pressed me since he joined in 125s. What he did in Moto2 was un­real: start­ing from last and winning races, winning the world cham­pi­onship as a rookie, and 10 out of 10 rounds. They’re in­cred­i­ble achieve­ments. I love watch­ing him ride. He’s a great am­bas­sador too, be­cause he’s al­ways happy and smil­ing.

Q3. What’s your worst rid­ing habit?

Rid­ing too fast. The older I get the more I tell my­self I’ve noth­ing to prove any more and that life is more im­por­tant than any­thing else – then when I get on a bike I com­pletely dis­con­nect again.

Q4. If you could have one rid­ing su­per skill, what would it be?

Rid­ing fast with­out crash­ing or hav­ing a prob­lem with the po­lice.

Q5. What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on a bike?

About 300kph on an R1 on a track. But for me top speed is less im­pres­sive than ac­cel­er­a­tion. The best feel­ing is ac­cel­er­a­tion, when the bike is push­ing and it wants to wheelie.

Q6. When were you last scared on a bike?

The last time I rode my T-max.

Q7. How many miles have you done in the last year?

Maybe 5000 kilo­me­tres – not so much be­cause the Mo­togp teams are trav­el­ling a lot. But I can­not imag­ine go­ing on hol­i­day with a car – for me a car is purely a tool. I am lucky enough to live in the south of France, which has lots of sun­shine and wind­ing roads, so I can al­ways choose two wheels.

Q8. What’s the high­est mileage you’ve cov­ered in one day?

In 1984 I set out from Honda France in Paris, when I was work­ing for them, with a VF750S and rode to the Jarama Grand Prix in cen­tral Spain. That was 1700 kilo­me­tres in one day, though I’m not a fan of that kind of rid­ing. I pre­fer to ride, stop and look at the scenery.

Q9. What ir­ri­tates you most on a bike?

Rain. You have to be care­ful when it’s wet and I’d rather ride with a free spirit.

Q10. You’ve got two weeks off: where are you go­ing?

Cor­sica. I love it there, and it means a lot to me. It has the kind of roads that I like, and it’s full of small vil­lages where you can stop and have a drink.

Q11. Got one pearl of wis­dom for new rid­ers?

Don’t let the adren­a­line be the boss of you. Al­ways remember that to ride a bike you need to be healthy and have two arms and two legs.

Q12. Ever fallen off in a car park (or some­where equally em­bar­rass­ing)?

I wanted to im­press all the girls ar­riv­ing at school, and there was a very fast cor­ner just be­fore the gates. I was on a Kawasaki KS125, and flat out when I lost the front and crashed in front of ev­ery­one. It was so painful, I was scratched ev­ery­where. When ev­ery­one came to see if I was OK I hid in a bush. I looked like a fool.

Q13. Do you have one in­dis­pens­able item of kit?

I’m not a good ex­am­ple be­cause I ride in a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, which is stupid. I al­ways have my hel­met though – I can’t ride with­out it and I never would. Sun­glasses, too.

Q14. Which four peo­ple would you in­vite on a Sun­day blast?

My friends. I’ve rid­den with my broth­ers and close friends for many years, and it’s with them I feel the best. My job is one where you need to dress and be­have and look a cer­tain way, but there are two Herve Poncher­als. I don’t want my pri­vate life to be pub­lic and I don’t mix them.

Q15. Do you have a tool you couldn’t live with­out?

I’m a bad me­chanic, which is why I have a T-max be­cause they’re re­li­able! The best tool I al­ways carry is a swim­ming suit and gog­gles, be­cause if you’re near the river or the beach at the sea, I can al­ways jump in.

Q16. Do you ad­just your sus­pen­sion?

No, be­cause I’m not look­ing for per­for­mance. I like to ride quite fast, but I cope with the bike like it is.

Q16. Which of your old bikes would you buy back?

Easy, my old Kawasaki H2 750.

Q18. What bike would you never buy?

A sports­bike. They’re the op­po­site of what I want. I don’t want that bar po­si­tion, and I’ve told you I’m too fast. A sports­bike would push me to go even faster and I’d lose my li­cence.

Q19. Which road (or track) would you build on your desert is­land?

It would be an en­duro stage. I like rid­ing off road, even at my level.

Q20. If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?

Be happy! Re­spect each other more, stand against racism, against all kinds of ha­tred.

‘My favourite tool is a swim­suit and a pair of gog­gles!’

Herve prefers to be in the slow group look­ing fast Goof­ing around with Dek Crutchlow back in the day

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